There is a significant spike in property claims when winter draws in, with November, December and January the most active months of the year for thefts and attempted break-ins. Winter time makes it easier for burglars and vandals to hide under the cover of darkness, and unoccupied properties are far easier targets than premises which are occupied.
VPS, the UK’s leading specialist in managing and protecting vacant properties, has gleaned three decades of experience in the sector, and currently looks after 50,000 units in the UK, with a value in excess of £3 billion.
Carlos Rosa, VPS Sales and Marketing Director, has these top tips to protect your vacant property this winter:
1 Check all the obvious entry points – windows and doors – and also less obvious access areas such as the roof; consider steel security screens for particularly vulnerable sites, and make good any noticeable weaknesses.
2 Invest in a good alarm system that can operate without external power, and can detect not just intruders but fire and flooding too.
3 For remote, challenging or high-risk premises, deploy a CCTV system that can ‘see’ in the dark, can be remotely monitored, and can operate on a self-contained power source.
4 Ensure ground perimeters are also secure, and that any combustibles are removed.
5 Inspect sites regularly to check if any attempts have been made to enter the site, or in case storms have weakened access points.
“Our inspectors have learnt so much about the unique vulnerabilities of vacant properties” says Mr Rosa, “and they pay great attention to detail to both the actual site and its environs. It’s a temptation I know to cut corners on looking after vacant properties, but it’s a false economy to do so. The costs of repair, refurbishment and insurance fees will often hit high 5 or 6 figure sums. Plus the additional delay in reletting or selling a damaged property, usually far outweighs the cost of protecting it well in the first place.”
There is also a public liability risk should a site have health and safety hazards. Mr Rosa concludes “Even unauthorised visitors, such as trespassers, have been known to successfully sue landlords if they have incurred an injury on vacant premises.”
VPS runs the largest fleet of CCTV ‘smart towers’ in Europe, won the ‘Largest security installer of the year’ award in 2015 and is currently shortlisted as the “best contributor to security standards’ at the Security and Fire Excellence awards.